UFC 122 Preview & Picks: SB Nation Breaks Down The Main Card

It's been a pretty busy week in the world of MMA so it should be nice to catch a breather and enjoy some free fights on Saturday night. This card isn't packed with big names but there are some intriguing match-ups to keep an eye out for. Sit back and relax as I try to lay out my theories and predictions for UFC 122.


Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Goran Reljic

This fight is actually a pretty tough call. Both of these guys are likely fighting for their jobs which makes it hard to predict attitudes coming in. They could come in swinging for the fences and go for the stoppage or play it safe and try to eke out a safe win. I'm siding with the latter.

Soszynski hardly resembles the fighter he was on the eighth season of 'The Ultimate Fighter,' his once prominent killer instinct seemingly reduced to resembling an aged heavyweight struggling to make it three rounds. His cardio has looked pretty bad since being thrust in the UFC's regular rotation and I would conservatively say it's cost him at least two fights.

Reljic is another sad story. After making a splash in his debut back at UFC 84 in 2008 where he took home 'fight of the night honors' in a TKO victory over Wilson Gouveia, a back injury sidelined Reljic for almost two years before dropping down to middleweight and making his return at UFC 110. He lost that fight to C.B. Dollaway via decision and would go on to drop another one against Kendall Grove at UFC 110. Reljic now makes the move back up to 205 pounds in a last ditch effort to resurrect his career.

I just don't see it happening. I'm begrudgingly going with Soszynski but it's anyone's fight.


Amir Sadollah vs. Peter Sobotta

There have been rumblings that Amir Sadollah could find himself on the business end of a pink slip if he fails to impress on Saturday night. With Efrain Escudero hitting the bricks in September after being outclassed by Charles Oliveira, I don't think anyone would put it past the UFC to serve the former TUF season winner his walking papers if he loses this fight.

I don't think Sobotta would still be employed by the UFC if this fight wasn't taking place in his homeland. The German made his debut at UFC 99 back in June of 2009 where he dropped a decision loss to Paul Taylor. After being out of the fight game for a year due to military constraints, he returned at UFC 115 against James Wilkes, again dropping a decision loss.

Honestly, I'm not sure either of these guys should be fighting in the UFC at this point in their respective careers. Sadollah never had the time to properly develop before making his professional debut in the UFC. The idea that someone would go from a few amateur smokers in his region and jump to fighting in the UFC is insane, and so here we are talking about his struggling. Sobotta is a rough combination of not getting proper training in Germany, having to split his time with military commitments, and being 23 years old. Until he can move to a legit camp and focus entirely on fighting he'll just be spinning his wheels. I'm picking Sadollah, I guess.

Dennis Siver vs. Andre Winner

In what could be a pretty rough card to watch — even for free — this fight has the potential to be a shining star. As long as these two keep it standing it could be a 'fight of the night' candidate, and for each of their sakes', it had better be. The line at the unemployment window could be longer depending how this thing shakes out.

Siver has been in and out of the UFC since 2007 with a mediocre 5-4 record. After going 1-3 in his first four fights inside the octagon, Siver was banished to what I can only imagine to be a nightmarish hell of the German regional shows. Luckily for him he managed to get another shot in the UFC, making good on his opportunity with three straight stoppage wins. The streak was snapped in a loss to Ross Pearson, but he bounced back in a win over Spencer Fisher.

Winner is far less experienced fighting for the promotion. After coming up short in the ninth season of 'The Ultimate Fighter,' Winner has gone 2-2 in the UFC's lightweight division with wins over Rollie Delgado and Rafaello Oliveira. He dropped his last fight to Nik Lentz at UFC 118 back in August, so Winner needs to win this fight or risk the dreaded two straight loss kiss of death. If Winner allows Siver to sit down on his punches he's probably going to be knocked out. Winner has to stay on his toes and stick to striking outside, keeping Siver swinging and hopefully missing.

If Winner fights smart I think he takes this.


Jorge Rivera vs. Alessio Sakara

I have no idea how each of these guys are riding three fight win streaks but I'm just going to go with it. Well, I shouldn't say that, I have some idea. four of the six opponents those wins stem from are no longer fighting in the UFC, so keep that in mind.

I think Sakara has the edge in pure boxing but I actually like Rivera in this fight if it stays standing. I see Jorge using his muay thai to outpoint his opponent, maybe even working in some takedowns to keep Sakara from being able to get comfortable throwing in the pocket.

I have to go with Rivera here. His last fight against Nate Quarry didn't even look competitive. It was brutal.


Nate Marquardt vs. Yushin Okami

One interesting storyline to this fight is how Yushin Okami moved to Oregon to train with Chael Sonnen following their fight at UFC 104 last October. Since the move Okami has rebounded well, scoring wins over Lucio Linhares and Mark Munoz. 'Thunder' has proven that he belongs in the mix at the top of the UFC's Middleweight division, but has yet to take that next step forward. Considering Okami has been in this position once before with Rich Franklin back in 2007 and failed, UFC 122 may very well be his last to capitalize on his opportunity in quite some time. A title fight with Silva would mean a rematch almost five years in the making. Will having Sonnen in Okami's corner make the difference in this fight?

Coming off an impressive TKO victory over Rousimar Palhares at Ultimate Fight Night 22 in Austin, Marquardt has moved right back up into title contention. Aside from a wacky decision loss to Thales Leites where he was docked two points and his smothering beatdown at the hands of Chael Sonnen, Marquardt has looked great. I like him in this fight. I see him using his clinch to work Okami into the cage and try to close the gap. Nate has KO power in his hands so Okami should be looking to use his jab and keep his distance. I like both guys, but I think Marquardt will execute his game plan better. I'm going with Nate "the Great."

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